Joe Turner's Come and Gone: A Play in Two Acts

by August Wilson

Paper Book, 1988





New York : New American Library, c1988.


When Herald Loomis arrives at an African-American Pittsburgh boardinghouse, after seven years' impressed labor on Joe Turner's chain gang, he is a free man--in body only.

User reviews

LibraryThing member wildbill
This play of August Wilson is set in 1911 at the home of Seth and Bertha Holly. Seth rents out rooms in his house and Bertha provides two meals a day. Bynum, a rootworker, and Jeremy a young kid who works on the road and plays guitar are living at Seth's when the play begins. The story centers around Harold Loomis who is looking for his wife Martha. He and his daughter Zonia move in to Seth's house at the beginning of the play. Harold pays Rutherford Selig, who is a traveling salesman and a people finder, to find his wife.
During the play Harold goes into a spell and Bynum talks him out of it. Seth doesn't like Harold going into a spell and tells him he will have to move. Zonia gets to know Reuben, the boy next door, who kisses her and says she will be his wife. Jeremy picks up with one woman and then runs off with Molly Cunningham who is real slick.
The play takes place in Seth's kitchen or in the back yard. August Wilson is an excellent playwright. I don't say that lightly. I enjoyed spending time in the world of Seth, Bertha and the others. Seth and Bynum play dominoes while Bynum sings " Joe Turner's Come and Gone". Everybody eats a biscuit with grits and gravy for breakfast and fried chicken on Sunday. It's a friendly place.
Wilson's skill is in making the play an authentic portrayal of this experience. I felt that this play focused on the issue of personal power. It included several incidents that illustrated how racism deprived African Americans of power over their lives. To make sure you can't forget at the end we learn who Joe Turner is and get a real cruel example of white supremacy at work in the lives of some nice people who just happened to be African American. Read this play and then talk about the good old days.
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